Tuesday, August 30, 2005

rms talk at um

Richard Stallman was over at UM to talk about 'The Dangers of Software Patents' last weekend (27th August 2005), organized by Asix. Turn out wasnt as large as I thought it would be, it certainly felt like it was less than his visit last year. Perhaps because it was held at UM on a Saturday afternoon.

It started off with Aizat's presentation on the MyOSS communities activities, which has been very active these past few months. Then of course we had the same ol' drivel from a MAMPU spokesperson. They could have at least gotten the title of the seminar right:

General Patten in da house!

She should also make sure that she avoids the blatant use of "Open Source" infront of Stallman. In fact it was rather interesting seeing how rms dealt with it, because at the end of the talk he actually gave her a book on his and Lessig's essays. He said that it was for someone of influence to the government. So I guess thats why he was so much more 'forgiving' to her inaccuracies. Another one was during her speech she said something to the effect of: "The Government is looking into Open Source because it gives them freedom: Freedom of Choice!" rms had a fit in his chair, and she had to quickly correct herself.

When directly asked if the Govt is for or against Software Patents, the standard MAMPU answer seems to be: "there is No Official Position." The reason being, they have not come to the 'problem' yet. Now this is funny because its conveniently avoiding the issue.

Bill from Asix then gave a really good talk about the development of his company and how it could not have acheived what it has done until today if software patents were in place, hindering the startup ISVs. I wish we could have heard more from him instead.

Then rms took the stage, and gave his talk. The first part of his talk was on the "Dangers of Software Patents", and it was to me quite new. But after listening to it, and doing some quick googling, Ive found that he uses this talk quite a few times and here are some transcriptions.

University of Dublin, Ireland
Model Engineering College, India

He covers most of the material to the dot. For the second half, he said he was going to talk about something more controversial. Thats the talk he gave last here in in KL, on the differences of Free and Open Source software and why its important now.

The closes prior speech I can google is probably this one:
National Institute of Technology, India.

He covers the history of FSF, Hurd, Community, Hurd, Lesser of two evils, 4 freedoms, education, government, affect on jobs... amongst the main points.

Its amazing that he has the motivation to re-deliver 2-3 hour speeches all over the world. I guess its the same with rock stars: doing the same material over and over again ;-)

After all the serious stuff was delivered, rms transformed himself into Saint Ignucious of the Church of Emacs and gave us his blessings.

I guess its definitely a "you had to be there" kinda experience to appreciate what happened, cos just looking at this its quite eerie. But rms had a huge smile on his face while doing this and he obviously loves a good laugh.

He then proceeded to sell his GNU merchandise and I got myself a keychain (RM50) and also got him to sign my copy of his book: "Free as in Freedom".



Thanks to Colin, there are some audio files available of the talk here, split to about an hour each:

Monday, August 29, 2005


This morning I received over 10 comments on my post on Astro. Now for a blog which doesnt really have much traffic I was surprised. Unfortunately they were all spam. Its funny because they always start off with 'Your blog is great!' or 'Nice job, I will bookmark..' and then proceed to sell their warez.

Very annoying, I have deleted them since, and just found out that blogger.com has three options to deal with this problem.
1) allow only registered users to post or
2) use Word Verification so that a human has to read some wierd fonts and type in stuff. Like so:

3) disable comments -:d'oh:-

I hate registering myself on websites, so Im not too keen on option 1, so I guess option 2 is the least intrusive. If the problem persists however I will have to chose both.

Anyway, so what do you call Blog Spam? Blam?


Friday, August 26, 2005

Astro the Prude

What is happening on Astro? Why are they bleeping out relatively harmless words on the programmes? Its so darn unnecessary.

I was watching Scrubs last night and every other friggin scene had some words dissapeared into the nether regions of the sensitive censorship room. Its like watching RTM 20 years ago when 'dangerous' words like 'Damn' or 'Shit' were removed from our malaysian vocabulary. Even the slap on Elliots rear was censored.

Then there was 'House', a scene where Dr House was asking what a baby was eating. The proud mother said "He's having nothing but ..... milk".
The funny thing is, for the trailers for House, we actually get to hear what she says, and the censored word is: 'breast'!!
Thats right, all she was saying was "He's having nothing but breast milk".
Nothing naughty about that at all!

He also comments on an off duty nurses dress, and says something like
"Nice outfit, you .... .... . ........"
What? He was trying to say that she looked like a prostitute. How do I know? The darn Malay subtitles were NOT censored. Oh NO! Its NOT alright to hear it in English, but its OK to read it in Malay? What gives? They cant be bothered to censor the subtitles too? Or the person doing the subtitles dont know what the criteria words are?

What the .... ?? Whats happening? Why the sudden need to be so prudish? Now I have to treat Astro programmes like some foreign films where I have to constantly read the subtitles to make sense of the show? C'mon guys, its like five years into the 21st century already.

How frustrating. I might as well get the DVDs.

They should take the Prude Test


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Junction Link Magic

I have problems synching directories with some of my ASP.NET projects with my fellow developers. Ive got some libraries in different locations. So whenever we synch up, we need to manually change the locations of these files. Usually its just a drive name change, but sometimes its an entire path.

Did a search on google, and found this rather interesting utility for NTFS. Its called Junction Link Magic and basically does the same as a 'symbolic link' in Linux. The difference is that instead of a built in tool, in the Windows world, we need to run an App to find the same functionality. Fortunately its free.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk

Just added google onto GAIM for yet another IM channel. It was really easy, just select Jabber as the protocol, set the server to talk.google.com, and its done. Follow this instructions for GAIM and ur done!

Im glad I use GAIM, otherwise its gonna be yet another client to download.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Fedora Core 4

Ive finally gotten round to installing Fedora Core 4 over the weekend. I used my partitions as the reason for my procrastinations. I needed to free up some space to properly assign a /home partition so that it can be shared with my other installations.

I 'optimized' my 25GB FAT32 partition so that the files packed towards the beginning of the partition and then using Ultimate Boot CD, I ran Ranish Partition Manager to modify the parameters to shrink the size of the partition. It wasnt particularly obvious because there were two entries to modify, one the cylinders and the other the reported accessible size. Strange. But it worked.

FC4 installation was rather painless after that, I installed most of the stuff available. Heres what worked 'out-of-the-box' and what needed tweaking...

Synaptic Touch Pad.
Not to be confused with the synaptic apt package manager, this driver worked immediately. It feels even better than the implementation on WinXP. Reason is that when I use the 'scroll-up/down' feature, the mouse doesnt dart to the scrollbar like mad. So its alot more polished.

ipw2100 for Wifi.
This Intel® PRO/Wireless 2100 Driver for Linux comes built into the kernel nowadays, so that was a plus. However the firmwares need to be downloaded and installed into /lib/firmware

Winbond SD Card Reader.
As previously blogged, this is now also built into the kernel. I could not get my script to work immediately. I guess Ill have to figure it out later when I have some time to burn.

Sound: Mute, Volume Up and Down
Somehow my root account binds these buttons properly. But my user account doesnt. Will have to investigate. I think its gotta be something to do with the way X and GNOME handles these bindings. At least I know it can be done.

Crossover Office/Wine
Works well. Lotus Notes and Internet Explorer 6.0 are OK.

Tree view and the new windows are killing me. At least when you open Nautilus in Applications/System Tools/File Browser, the saner version works.
nautilus --no-desktop --browser %U
I dont know how to make this the default behaviour, but at least I have docked this shortcut on my Panel.

OpenOffice 2.0 (beta)
Works better than the Windows version, a whole lot more stable and faster. I cant wait for the release version to be out.

Portable harddisk plugged ito USB was automatically detected and mounted as a USB Media device. Very nice. Unmounts works well too.

I have one partition in NTFS for my WinXP Pro. Got this to work by installing the kernel-module for ntfs. Works for read only.

Applets on the Panel:
Battery Charge Monitor - wonderful detailed info on Battery and Charging status
Weather Report - Ive noticed now KL is finally included!
Network Monitor - Shows the 'flashing monitors' to indicate network activity...
Sticky Notes - No vertical scrollbars. So sticky notes get very large. quite primitive.

Applates on the Bottom Panel:
CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor - It shows how fast the processor is running at and dynamically changes as more stress is applied.
System Monitor - CPU Utilization, etc...

Software Suspend 2
I havent got Hibernate to work yet.

Synaptic (apt-get UI)
I just did a 'yum install synaptic' and now using synaptic to manage my packages. I really like this app. It works very well.

MP3 Support
I guess licensing issues means that FC cannot include MP3 support. But since I have synaptic installed, it was quite easy to make sure that rhythmbox could play my mp3s. Just check most of the gstreamer related packages like plugins, and mp3s will be playable.

A good reference I picked up along the way:
FC4 Installation Notes


Friday, August 19, 2005

postNuke got Nuked

Got a fright when I found that my project site on sourceforge was down. Some cryptic message about Smarty.class.php not able to write to a directory. I checked the dir which postNuke uses to confirm that it was chmodded 777.

I then did some googling, and I read that some guys from postNuke have found some exploits namely xmlrpc.php etc, etc...

So I became paranoid and jumped to the conclusion that the site was down because of some flaw. So since it was working before Monday, I asked support at sourceforge.net to rollback my site to then, and hopefully I can patch things up.
So I sent in an issue, and today I got this response:

(2005-08-15 10:53:57 - Project Web Service)
Inquiries regarding Internal Service Errors should be directed to the administrator for the project managing that project web site; some web-based applications (maintained by individual projects) will malfunction due to the read-only remount of the project group directories; data needs to be moved to the project MySQL database, or the /tmp/persistent directory
structure as per http://sourceforge.net/docman/display_doc.php?docid=4297&group_id=1#permissions

So that was all to it! They remounted the drives to be read only, which means my temp drive for postNuke had to be redirected to /tmp/persistent/...
So I changed the config.php settings, and voila, it worked.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Earth on Fire

An interesting website, called MODIS, lists all the areas in the world which has fires. This image is telling.

If we thought that Msia has it bad with the fires in Sumatera, just look at Africa! Jeez.

The Gallery section is especially helpful as it has realtime satellite images of the areas affected. Here is are the results of a search for Indonesia however the images are NOT uptodate. 25th June only, which is ancient!

Click on the image above, and you can test out a really cool app which has the ability to zoom in... like Google Earth. Otherwise see the big version.

I dont get it, but Indonesia/Malaysia seems to be left out of these 'subsets'. How annoying.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I should have taken up smoking

The air quality in KL now is horrible. The Haze is so think even inside airconditioned buildings are slightly hazy. Walking around the corporate campus makes my eyes water, and my throat is starting to feel irritated.

Haze is caused by Sumatra fires, not local ones

This is hard to imagine as I can actually smell the burning smoke. The haze a few years ago did not have that, unless I forget, or this time 'round, we've been hit harder.

I was just wondering how this affects us Malaysians, i.e. how many cigarettes is breathing this air equivalent to?

Perhaps we should have at airports:
"Malaysia seriously harms you and the others around you"

Otherwise its probably a good time to pick up smoking as a habit. That way, I get to see whats so great about it, and yet live as long as my fellow Malaysians. Also I would probably think that the haze is a bonus! a very lite cigarette, but for FREE!

Help Us!


The Air Pollution Index (API - how appropriate) is coming back! from screenshots.

0 - 50 - Good
51 - 100 - Moderate
101 - 200 - Unhealthy
201 - 300 - Very unhealthy
301 - 500 - Dangerous

Its seems today at KL it was only 181! Jeez, and I thought it was bad.
Wonder how Port Klang is doing at 410?!